THEATRE: CURTAIN CALLS

Click to follow
Will someone rid me of this turbulent prose... or rather, why adapt novels for the stage? The acts of reading and watching may both centre around narrative, but they are entirely different. Reading, for one thing, is a personal and private act, taking place over time, dictated by the reader. Theatre, by contrast, is a public art that happens in a controlled, permanent present. But companies still insist on raiding the fiction section for inspiration. Among the drably faithful and more than faintly fruitless renderings of the classics of recent years was Anna Karenina (above) by Shared Experience. Now it's back.

For years, Shared Experience led the way in the novel approach to novels, but when Nancy Meckler took over, she originally concentrated on the playwrighting side of things. "I wanted to work in a non-naturalistic, expressionist style to reveal the hidden realities and inner thoughts of texts and characters." However, with only enough funding for eight actors, finding material suitable for touring was difficult. With everyone after the same plays, Meckler found herself reconsidering fiction. Loathing the sort of theatre that does nothing but pay reverence to a book, her productions - including a bold The Mill on the Floss - are more "inspired by" rather than flat renderings of prose. Thank goodness for that.

Lyric Hammersmith, London W6 (0181-741 2311) from 15 Oct

David Benedict

Comments